Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for a 2009 NFL-high 503 yards in last Sunday's 37-36 win over the Green Bay Packers. Our Anatomy of a Play this week features the final 19 of those yards, which came on the winning touchdown pass to Mike Wallace with no time remaining.
"It's amazing how one play can change everything", Roethlisberger said after the game.
You said it, Ben.
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Before the play, the defending Super Bowl champions were on the ropes. They'd lost five straight games, had blown another fourth-quarter lead, and were facing elimination from playoff contention.
After the play, the Steelers were back in the mix. Sure, they now need to win out and get help, but there is hope. That glimmer for Pittsburgh is dangerous for their remaining opponents and for the playoff teams.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers. But they're not that far off. Despite a 7-7 record and losses to some bad teams, they still have a talented roster.
With only a three-man rush, Green Bay didn't apply any pressure on the game's final play. Roethlisberger took the snap and surveyed his receivers down the middle. Green Bay's three deep, free defenders all drifted toward the middle, following Roethlisberger's eyes.
Rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace was split to the left on an island in a pure one-on-one matchup with second-year corner Josh Bell.
After seeing the coverage drawn toward the middle, Roethlisberger turned to his left to see Wallace singled up with Bell facing the sideline. Roethlisberger wasted no time in pulling the trigger and firing the ball 35 yards on a rope to a perfect spot where Wallace caught it in toe-tap style as he fell out of bounds.
It was a grand finale to an outstanding performance by Roethlisberger. One play that saved the Steelers' season ... for at least one more week.
"If that last play's incomplete," said Roethlisberger. "We probably have the worst Christmas ever."